Wow man, Matthew Crest is one seriously fun climb. The standard south-to-north traverse starts out with a couple of 5.6-ish pitches followed by a long sustained knife-edge ridge, then ends with 5.7 pitch up a tower on the north end. Most people call this the end of the climb, though some parties continue past the north tower to finish off the whole crest.
The approach is a real bear, though. My climbing partner, Patrick, and I did the whole thing in an exhausting 12 hour day. The trail begins at the Cathedral Lakes trailhead, goes past Cathedral Peak, up and over Cathedral Pass, then angles off-trail to the west where you head for an obvious notch in the south end of the crest - the start of the climb.
Patrick led the first pitch. There were three other parties starting at the same time, so we moved climber's left to a non-standard starting spot. This proved to make route finding a little more difficult than it should be. We eventually got back on route and swung the second lead. This leads to the top of the ridge where the traverse begins.
We un-roped at this point and free-soloed the rest of the ridge, making a brief side-trip up to the South Tower, an unnecessary but very cool spot for a breather. We then descended to the notch below the North Tower, where we roped up. Patrick took the lead. this pitch begins with a tricky hand-traverse, then eases up for another 100 feet or so to the top of the tower.
I left this part for the end of the post so hopefully nobody's reading this far. I got stuck at the hand traverse - a mere 15 feet of foothold-less climbing - with two parties looking on. How embarrassing. I gotta get back in the gym I guess. Sheesh. Anyway, Patrick rappelled off the North Tower and we descended from the notch and hiked out the 5 miles back to the truck.
Awesome day - but aaargghh, I now have to make the return trip just to knock down that 15 feet.